The 10 Best Massage Pillows
This wiki has been updated 31 times since it was first published in September of 2015. With all the stress of living in the modern age, almost everyone carries some tension in their necks, backs, and other muscles. Something from our selection of massage pillows can provide an added soothing dimension to your relaxation time. We've included head and neck-only options through to full-coverage models that feature calming heat and adjustable pressure for maximum relief. When users buy our independently chosen editorial recommendations, we may earn commissions to help fund the Wiki.
February 19, 2020:
For the majority of users, the Viktor Jurgen Shiatsu and its rotating nodes bring welcome relief from neck and back pain; it replaces the Zyllion ZMA13 Shiatsu, which has become difficult to find at this time. If this shiatsu model (and similar ones, like the HoMedics 3D) is too bulky, consider the M Cushion Ultimate Comfort, instead. It resembles a standard pillow, so it won't stick out like a sore thumb, and it shuts off automatically for your peace of mind. For those who need something a little larger, we've selected the Snailax Mat. You can lie on it and allow the heat and gentle vibration to relax your body — but don't expect it to deeply knead your muscles, as it's not made for shiatsu. For something a little different, we've opted to add one acupressure mat, the ProsourceFit Acupressure Set, which isn't electric. Instead, it provides relief from pain and tightness by massaging the pressure points in your back with its raised needle-like projections.
One final word about safety. No matter which pillow or mat you choose, be careful about leaving them on any one part of your body for too long, and about using them on injured muscles, as you might accidentally cause further injury. You should also avoid leaving heated options turned on for longer than recommended in order to prevent burns.
Zarifa USA Smart The Zarifa USA Smart is a high-quality model with soft textiles and deep shiatsu kneading that can bring relief to every part of your body, from your neck to the soles of your feet. It has a large integrated handle that makes it a cinch to transport, so you never have to go without the comfort you need. zarifausa.com
Medical Breakthrough 8 When simple cushions and pillows just aren't getting the job done, there's the Medical Breakthrough 8, a highly advanced massage chair that gives you plenty of value for the admittedly high price. In fact, it has a customization system that ensures you're getting just the right amount of pressure where you need it, and never too much where you don't. medicalbreakthrough.org
Sharper Image Warming Backrest The Sharper Image Warming Backrest is more than just a pillow. Resembling a husband pillow or sit-up cushion, it cradles and props you up while you relax, making it easy to read a book or watch television. You can choose between two vibration settings to loosen up your muscles and use the built-in cup holder to keep your favorite beverage close. sharperimage.com
How Do I Choose a Proper Massage Pillow For Me?
If you plan on placing a pillow in a specific room, you'll want a model that matches that room's decor.
The first thing any person needs to consider whenever shopping for a massage pillow is what exactly they plan on using that pillow for. A lot of run-of-the-mill massage pillows can ease tension, whereas a superior pillow has numerous settings, some of which are geared toward alleviating chronic symptoms associated with lumbar pressure, sciatica, and other back-related pain.
Certain massage pillows are even capable of offering a specific type of massage, like, say, shiatsu. Shiatsu is a Japanese form of pressure therapy that's been proven to ease headaches, stiffness, anxiety, insomnia, lower-back pain, and certain digestive disorders (among other things). The point being that if you've benefited from a systematic style of massage, it may be worth pursuing a therapeutic pillow that can provide a fairly similar approach.
Beyond that, you'll want to consider where you plan on placing a massage pillow. If you plan on placing a pillow on your car seat or an office chair, for example, you'll need a model that's compact, and will not force you to lean forward. If you plan on placing a pillow in a specific room, you'll want a model that matches that room's decor. If you'd like to take a massage pillow with you during business trips, it's best to choose a lightweight model (i.e., less than 3 lbs) so that you can check it in with your carry-on luggage. Be sure to confirm that any travel pillow can be operated by way of battery power, given that you plan on using it outside the home.
How to Create a Relaxing Atmosphere Inside Your Home
In order to fully enjoy the benefits of a massage pillow, you'll want to set up an atmosphere that feels welcoming, free of distraction, and warm. The first step should be choosing a space that appears sedate, preferably with muted tones. You may want to spray this space with some antiseptic, and you may also want to dim the lights, and light a candle. Professional masseuses tend to use scented candles, including selections like sandalwood, lavender jasmine, or rose.
As a precaution, make sure to power down your phone and any other digital devices prior to the start of a massage session.
Once you've created a tranquil setting, determine whether you'd like to adjust the thermostat or open a window. If you live in a busy area, you may want to keep your windows closed to avoid being distracted by any white noise. If you own curtains or blinds, it is important to draw these, as passing shadows or piercing sunlight could prove distracting to your cause.
If you prefer to listen to ambient music during a massage, it may help to create a playlist so you don't need to hit stop or fast forward. You may also want to stream your music via a laptop or a docking station, as opposed to being tethered to any handheld player, or its cord.
As a precaution, make sure to power down your phone and any other digital devices prior to the start of a massage session. It becomes increasingly difficult not to be distracted, if not disrupted, by the ping of an email, or the buzz of a phone.
A Brief History of Massage
The earliest evidence of massage comes by way of ancient cave drawings, and similar etchings. Subsequent records confirm that massage was practiced as a means of pain relief (particularly for soldiers) throughout Ancient Egypt, Mesopotamia, China, Japan, India, Rome, and Greece.
During the 3rd Century BCE, the Chinese compiled a printed history of their medical practices known as the Huangdi Neijing (a.k.a. "The Emperor's Inner Canon"). This text included more than three dozen references to back, foot, neck, and body massage, with the majority of these references recommending massage as an effective means of alleviating pain.
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, consumers spend $6 billion a year on massage products and services in the United States alone.
It was during this period that an Indian guru named Shivago Komarpaj devised a holistic regimen of treatments based on acupuncture, reflex mechanics, muscle development, acupressure, and early forms of yoga. Komarpaj's research and methodology gained widespread acclaim after he began to treat the Buddha. Soon after, Komarpaj was credited with developing what we now refer to as Thai massage.
In 581 CE, China instated massage therapy as an aspect of its imperial curriculum, meaning that massage would be studied, performed, and prescribed by medical students and licensed physicians throughout that country and its surrounding regions. A century later, the European elite began to employ massage as an entitled form of stress relief and repose.
During the 1800s, a Swedish gym instructor named Pehr Henrik Ling developed his own form of massage based on relaxing, and then re-energizing, the body's upper-most layer of soft tissue. Ling's methods became so renowned among therapists, professional trainers, and coaches that by the end of the 19th century, the term Swedish Massage had been born.
Today, massage is more popular than it has ever been. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, consumers spend $6 billion a year on massage products and services in the United States alone.